Holiday Classics: Fried Honey Balls

A holiday celebrated by deep frying food. Seriously? Sign me up.
A holiday celebrated by deep frying food. Seriously? Sign me up.
Photo by Avlxyz

We'll be featuring some holiday cookie classics on Eating Our Words in honor of the season. And since I'll need something to bribe Santa with after a year of being a total bitch, I can promise you this: all of them will be equally delicious.

Last week we focused on the adorably delicious Gingerbread Man. This week, we're featuring a Hanukkah classic: The Fried Honey Ball

From latkes and pancakes to jelly-filled donuts, fried foods are one of the greatest delights of the Festival of Lights. During the eight days of Hanukkah, foods are baked or fried in oil to celebrate the miracle of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem's menorah staying alight for eight days even though there was only enough oil to keep the wicks lit for one.

And that, my friends, is good enough reason for me to divulge in one of my favorite Hanukkah treats, fried honey balls. These tasty fritters, more traditional in Sephardic Hanukkah celebrations, go by many names; bimuelos (a Judaeo-Spanish derivation of the Spanish buneolos, meaning fritters), loukoumades (a Greek version), lokma tatlısı (a Turkish version),or zvingoi (the name commonly used by the Greek Jews). I don't care what you call it, all I know is I want them and I want them now.

Here's how to make them:

Ingredients yield 24-36 honey balls

  • 3 1/2 cups all‑purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
  • juice of 1 large orange, strained of pulp (about 1/3 cup), divided
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • Cinnamon or powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

    Directions

    Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar and yeast over water and wait until mixture become foamy, about 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, combine flour, remaining 1 tbsp sugar, and salt. Add to yeast mixture along with remaining water, 3 tbsp fresh orange juice, orange zest, and 2 tbsp oil. Stir until dough forms, about 30 seconds.

    Knead the dough in the bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes, adding a light dusting of flour if dough is too sticky. Cover bowl with a towel and let rest until dough has doubled in volume, about 1½ hours.

    Heat about 4 inches of oil in a large, tall pot to about 350-360F (very hot but not smoking). With lightly oiled hands, form dough into walnut-sized balls and drop into the hot oil in batches. Fry, turning once until golden brown all around, about 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    Meanwhile, place honey and remaining orange juice in a small saucepan and simmer 3-4 minutes until warm. Drizzle fritters with honey, dust with cinnamon or powdered sugar (optional), and serve.

    These treats can be served at room-temperature, but are best served hot right from the fryer. Enjoy and Happy Hanukkah!

    *Recipe adapted from The World of Jewish Desserts by Gil Marks



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